Bolton Council has agreed a council tax rise for its own services of 1.2% at the council’s full budget meeting, with a total increase of 3.5% including transport, waste, fire and police services.
Council tax had been frozen in 2011 and 2012, however as the council has a budget gap of £43m between 2013 and 2015, council leaders decided to increase council tax, rather than make further reductions in services.
This council tax rise means that those living in a Band D property will pay £1,459.24 per year – an increase of £49.41 a year, while those on Band A will pay £972.83, an increase of only £32.94 a year. These amounts include the police and fire precepts.
The council also approved the budget for 2013, which included savings in services of £40m between 2013 and 2015. This is due to a continuing reduction in the total amount of government grant the council receives, an unavoidable cost increase for waste disposal and transport and additional savings which the council must find due to changes in the council tax benefit scheme.
However, the council also approved using £8m of its reserves on the basis of £2m a year for four years, rather than make further reductions in services.
Despite the savings, the council also agreed extra one-off investment in various areas, funded from reserves. The council agreed to invest £1m in Bolton town centre, including town centre initiatives such as free parking to encourage people to shop in Bolton and boost the economy. The council also agreed to invest £2m in private sector housing renewal, £1m in the council’s apprenticeship scheme, which provides employment and training for young people and £1m in sport and leisure facilities across the borough.
Finally, the council agreed to invest £1m in a series of measures to combat poverty.
Councillor Cliff Morris, Leader of Bolton Council said: “In setting this year’s budget and council tax, the council faced a series of difficult and complex decisions, all of which will have an impact on the citizens of this borough. It has therefore been necessary to strike a balance between the reductions in services to clients and the impact on households of increased council tax bills. We are asking the public to contribute through a modest increase in council tax in order to avoid making even more reductions in the services we provide to everyone and in particular to those who are most vulnerable.
Overall, the council will still be making savings which impact on services of over £40m, whilst asking the majority of council tax payers to contribute an additional 63p per week, with over 83% of council tax payers paying less than an additional 85p per week.”